As we recoil in horror from yesterday’s appalling attacks against journalists and cartoonists at the offices of Paris’s Charlie Hebdo, let’s be very clear: these acts of terrorist violence are different in degree, not in kind, from many other attempts to shut down speech and human expression in all forms.
We’ve seen the rise in recent years of aggressive campaigns for the suppression of the written and spoken word from all over the political spectrum, from those who would consider themselves progressives and advocates for human rights to those who view themselves as holy warriors divinely charged with wiping out democracy, freedom and equality, among other modernist evils. What they all have in common is intolerance for any views but their own.
If you commit yourself to silencing the forms of expression you don’t like, you stand with the murderers at Charlie Hebdo. This is the ultimate, extreme, and perhaps inevitable end of suppression.